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Coaches Network: Offseason Learning, Preseason Preparation

  • Date:
    Aug 7, 2015

How did you spend your summer vacation? For the best basketball coaches, fitting in some time to learn and grow (along with some down time at the beach or pool) is essential. The willingness to improve is part of what makes them great.

So we reached out to the USA Basketball Coaches Network to get an idea of what they’ve done this offseason. And since the summer isn’t over yet, what more can be done. This week’s question:

What have you done this offseason to better yourself as a coach -- and if it's not too late, what can a youth coach do right now to help prepare for the upcoming season?


Sue Phillips, head coach, Archbishop Mitty High School (Calif.)

This past offseason could be characterized by improvement through investment.

Not only as a staff did we invest in our players in the area of skill development, but we also invested in improving our own coaching capabilities. Personally, I spent time visiting with some of the best coaches from around the country to pick their brains on X's and O's and discuss their programmatic philosophy. I observed and took notes from those coaches on their favorite drills and walked away with catchy word phrases that reinforced the fundamentals. I also read books on leadership and performance psychology. Golden rule: Invest in yourself so that you can turn around and invest in others.

I also sought after and took advantage of opportunities to stretch and grow as a coach. Specifically, I coordinated and taught youth basketball camps, spoke at a coaches' clinic, and worked a national skills academy to help grow the game. To hone your craft as a coach, one must be a teacher and a student all at the same time.

What can you do now as a youth coach to prepare for the upcoming season? Never miss a chance to improve. For example, attend a coaches' clinic or read a book. Preparation is the key to success, so be sure to get organized. Assess your personnel to pinpoint your team's strengths and deficiencies. Tweak or tailor your system to highlight those team strengths and map out a progression plan to build up those team deficiencies. Moving forward: plan your work, and work your plan. 


Don Showalter, head coach, Iowa City High School (Iowa)

During the offseason, I stay busy with camps and speaking at clinics both internationally and within the United States. While at the clinics I visit with many great coaches as well and get new ideas to implement with my team. I think the offseason should be a time to reevaluate last season and to honestly evaluate things your team needs to be better at next season. Watching game film of my team as well as other teams, including college and NBA teams, is important.  This fall is a time to plan for the season -- making practice schedules and continuing to evaluate my team’s perceived strengths and weaknesses for the coming season.


Brian Robinson, head coach, Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School (N.C.)

This offseason, I spent some time reviewing tape of our previous high school season to see what improvements could be made. Seeing what areas we were lacking in has been helpful in the preparation for the 2015-16 year. Also, our state association hosted its annual July coaching clinic where a number of college coaches shared their ideas about things they do on and off the court that have been successful.

Next week, I'll attend the USA Basketball Youth Coaches Academy where, again, I hope it is an opportunity to learn.

I would encourage youth coaches to call a college coach in their area this fall and ask to attend a practice or to attend one of the many coaching clinics that take place before the start of basketball season.


Are you a youth basketball coach looking for more resources to better yourself and help your players? Join the National Standard and become a licensed coach today! Register now



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The USA Basketball Coach Academy tour is underway for 2017. Become your best with live training and networking opportunities while learning from experienced guest speakers with a passion to share lessons in through basketball. Early bird pricing & group discounts are available! Join us! Visit for more information including the list of academy stops.

Watch as Damian Lillard, Kemba Walker, Ty Lawson, John Wall and Coach Don Showalter demonstrate the fundamentals of catching a basketball and making an initial move to the basket.

  • Date:
    Nov 16, 2015

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